Homesick But Committed to Staying in the Race

November 27, 2017

What a week it’s been! My Thanksgiving was definitely better than last year. For all of you facing your “firsts” this year, I want to tell you that at least one person has found the “seconds” to be easier. They aren’t without sadness, but they’ve felt a little better. There’s grief, but it so far hasn’t been as all encompassing as year one.

This year, like last year, we traveled to Kentucky to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. My sister and her family (and B!) drove down from Chicago, so I was with my brother, my sister, their spouses and children, and all THREE of my kids. We celebrated Christmas as well. Christhankmas is what I’ve coined it. I wanted to cancel the trip hundreds of times because I’m a total anxious homebody, and also because TEN HOURS IN THE VAN is not enjoyable. Like, at all. But, I knew it would be worth it, and it was. Not only did I catch up on dozens and dozens of podcasts, but I also was met with so much love and happiness when I arrived at each stop.

I stopped halfway there to visit my inlaws. Although the visit was shorter than it should’ve been, it was wonderful to see them. They love my kids so much. They enjoy hearing about their activities, marveling at how much they’ve grown, and spoiling them with all sorts of things like special rides in Grandpa’s truck, a gigantic bag full of Rice Krispy treats for the road, etc.

The next day we were back on the road for Kentucky. I love Kentucky. Well, Lexington, anyway. It’s beautiful there. Miles and miles of black horse fencing, magnificent horse farms, rolling hills, well manicured black tobacco barns, stately homes, a moderate climate, and most importantly….FAMILY.

It felt so great to be surrounded by family. It felt secure, comforting, and joyful. It felt like HOME. My brother and sister are my best friends, and my sister-in-law feels like my very own sister and friend. I don’t like being far away from them. And my nephews! Oh my gosh, I love them so much!

Every time I visit Kentucky I spend time on realty websites looking for houses. Last year it was mostly just for fun, but this year it felt different. I really would move there if it felt possible. But the work involved with getting a house ready to sell! The purge that would need to happen would be of epic proportions. And then there’s the smaller but numerous details like switching banks, insurance, doctors…all the things! Plus I’ve never sold or bought a house by myself. I give up on the idea just thinking about it.

But then, when we arrived back home after the VERY long drive back, it didn’t feel like “Home Sweet Home.” It felt like I’d left my “home” behind. The feeling of being surrounded by people who love us and would be there for us if we needed them wasn’t here. For the first time, here felt emptier.

What I wouldn’t give to easily be able to go to my nephews’ ball games, music concerts, etc. What I wouldn’t give to be able to watch them so my brother and his wife could have a date night! I think about how wonderful it would be for cousins to grow up near each other. And also to be on the flip side of all of that would be amazing too. To have people around to support my kids and me!

I suppose it isn’t fair to put that kind of thing on my family. This is MY situation to figure out, not theirs to fix. But it really would feel safe to have the love of family around. Plus, I know the words to “My Ole Kentucky Home,” I love monogrammed things, UK basketball, big hair and the beauty and thrill of a thoroughbred horse race. I’d fit right in! What do all y’all think? See? I can do it!

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know if I’ll stay here, move to Kentucky, or move somewhere else. I’m trusting that I’ll know what to do when the time is right. In the meantime, there’s a wedding anniversary and Christmas to tackle.

I’m praying these special dates are better in year two, just like Thanksgiving and my birthday proved to be. It’s still hard, just different. I’m hoping it’s easier, although it’s still not what it should be, because it’s not what it was. But I’m committed to staying in the race.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. – Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message)

 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40;31 (NIV)

I know some of you have moved. You’ve figured out how to leave the home you shared with your loved one. How did you do it? When did you do it? Did you just KNOW when the time was right? Or have you stayed put? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment – let me know how you’ve dealt with these feelings and decisions.

Extra grace,


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  • Reply Linda Pryce November 27, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Jodi, I totally understand your feelings. I haven’t gone through this since I was 66 when my husband died in 2016 but here’s my take on it. You are a thoughtful, prayerful and deliberative person. So do that, weigh the pros and cons and pray. Yes, it would be a huge undertaking so it wouldn’t happen fast but I know you have the strength to do it if moving is your decision. I grew up around my aunts, uncles and cousins and we raised our daughters around family so I’m prejudiced. I believe it gives one a strong and loving support system that is always there. My best friends are my two cousins who are more like sisters. They have been unbelievably supportive during the loss of my oldest daughter and my husband. You are a wonderful mother and strong woman so I know that with God’s help you will make the right decision for you and your children. I will pray for you to have wisdom and strength.

  • Reply Debbie Canavan November 27, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I don’t think you need to look at being near family as expecting them to fix everything, or that you will be a big drain on them. They would benefit by having you around, too! It sounds to me like a good-sized chunk of your heart is really there already. What do your kids think of the idea?I believe you’re well-attuned to God’s voice for you, and you will know what to do eventually. I’m beginning to think a fresh start in a new home sounds better and better, but I’m still conflicted about it. I wouldn’t leave the area, though, because most of my family is here (or relatively near). Peace as you sort it all out, Jodi. You can take your time.

  • Reply Debbie November 27, 2017 at 11:32 am

    My 2015:
    Sometimes decisions happen even before you know what’s best for you. My 57 year old husband retired (early) on July 7th (he was not ill, that we knew). We put our home on the market August 1st, it sold August 4th. August 18th he went to the hospital. August 26th he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. September 1st we moved into a rental home (we had not decided where we wanted to live even before he got sick; the house sold faster than we could decide; WHICH WAS GOOD IN HINDSIGHT).
    December 30, 1915 he died.

    I think I would be paralyzed still in our home today had it not sold before I knew he was dying. There was so much devastating change in such a short time that I simply just went numb and moved in the surreal world as best I could. I needed the money from the sale of our home to survive and if the universe had not made the decisions for me things could be very different for me now.
    While I’ve made several decisions since then (I bought my first house on my own), I do not feel any longer that if I make a decision that is a mistake that it’s going to be permanent. I used to believe in permanent but permanent does not exist for me anymore.
    Try not to worry too much about decisions, as we who follow you know all to well sometimes the universe will decide for you and all you can do is hang on. Hugs to you!

    • Reply Linda November 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Debbie, our stories have many similarities! My husband diagnosed May 2015. We were in process of building our “dream home” (he was actually the one physically building it!). He lived 14 months but was terribly ill and of course unable to work on it. I ended up selling it after he died. It’s the worst disease ever. You say many things which I relate to. My best to you.

  • Reply Maryellen November 27, 2017 at 11:33 am

    You’ll know when the time is right, Jodi. Opening new bank accounts? Piece of cake. I see how much you’ve grown, both emotionally & spiritually, over the months. You say yourself. You can do it, yes it’s hard, but different. It always will be. Nothing will be the same, but move forward. I am amazed by how far you’ve come.
    Yes, Kentucky is beautiful. We had family in Louisville for 6 years. They’ve since moved back to northern Michigan.
    I’ll keep you in my heart & prayers that you’ll know when, and if, you decide to move. ❤️❤️👍🏼 Maryellen 😊

  • Reply Mary Ann Pest November 27, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Year two has been easier for me also . Different but better than the first. Haven’t made any decisions about moving but am thinking more about the possibility Yes, you can do this.

  • Reply Rev. Judi Wiegman November 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    My husband passed away in January. I planned to continue living in Waco, TX where we were vey happy. In April I traveled to see several of my 7 children who had flung open the doors of their home for me to live. I returned to Waco, dug in my heels and decided to remain there. In May, I traveled to yet another daughter’s home to be near family for Mother’s Day. Early that morning I clearly heard the voice of the Holy Spirt saying, ” Take a second look at the home that is available for you here.” I did, I felt instant peace and moved into that home on May26. I have freedom to be on my own and family around me. You will know—my heart tells me—-though I do not know you personally—that it will be soon. I have found so much peace knowing this decision was right for me. Daughters around me, grandchildren and now 2 baby boy great-grands are blessing me daily.!! Pastor Judi Wiegman

  • Reply Linda November 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    When my husband became very ill at age 58 with pancreatic cancer, then died, and I had a life threatening illness also, it was a big change in thinking for us to consider accepting help. We were used to being helpers, and more comfortable in that role. A kind physician suggested to me that accepting help was a gift we could give to the family and friends around us who were aching with grief and helpless feelings. I changed my attitude about it. I accepted, even asked for all kinds of support. I thanked people sincerely, but never apologized for needing/receiving the help. It truly did allow people to be at ease and feel good about what they did for me.
    I think you and your family will give to each other!
    I moved 3 months after my husband died. There are those who thought it was too early; but it felt right for me. Lots of helpers came forward to move and get a new home ready, and I trudged through the pain of selling a house, etc. A year later, I know it was right for me.. It wasn’t like a bolt of lightening–more not overthinking it, and not paying attention to everyone else’s opinion.
    And my husband’s death numbed my affinity for planning. My husband would tell me “we’re just on for the ride”. If I make a decision and go for it, and it turns out to be wrong, I will just make another decision. Nothing is forever in this world.
    My best to you.

  • Reply Lisa Teichmann November 27, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I’ll be moving probably some time in the spring…my husband was a pastor and we live(d) in the parsonage so I kinda have to move. In a way I’m looking forward to it, to be responsible enough to purchase a home (scary!) on my own, to have a fresh start. But I’m also dreading it because we had so many memories here. The church keeps saying I can stay as long as I need to, but I feel it’s best to move forward. I’m glad you had a good Thanksgiving, this was my second, too.

    • Reply Joy Brumback November 28, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Oh, how I relate to you! My husband and I pastored a church together for 34 years. Thank goodness we did not live in a parsonage. My house is about 20 minutes away from the church. You will find out soon that you are expected to withdraw from the social circle of the church. It is the hardest thing I have had to do. There are very few people who can understand the trauma. Honestly, I did not even imagine what it was going to be like to try to attend another church. I think it will be so much easier when I can move from the area. I am raising a special needs granddaughter so I have to make decisions for her as well, so life is a bit complicated. Please accept some love from me today. My heart hurts for your situation.

  • Reply Michele November 27, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    My husband and I built a new home on an acre of our son’s land. We moved in last January and my husband died unexpectedly in May. So the house is still brand new to me. I will not be moving. My son lost his wife unexpectedly a year before my husband. He has 5 kids. I am here to help him out when he needs me. We are muddling through together. Lots of new normals for us both! Love reading your blogs. Hang in there!

  • Reply Dorothy J Wright November 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    For me this year was just as hard as last years first. It was my turn to have Thanksgiving and they wouldn’t let me! I guess it was kind of a relief but I still felt lost all day, and the rest of the weekend too.

    I don’t plan to move. At 73 I am still on the move and able and willing to do most things. It is hard to be alone all the time, or most of the time, especially at night. Sometimes I look at my house and feel overwhelmed but it goes away when I think of a person one wall over! I don’t think I could cope with that right now.

    Good luck with your decision.


  • Reply Jaime Jackson November 27, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Oh Jodi! I so get you!
    My children and I (then age almost 3 and 6) moved to our new home 1 day shy of my Bob being gone 6 months. I know it has been said to not make big decisions within the first year of loss but I needed help juggling kids and work and counseling and grief. Granted the move was only 20 minutes but now I’m literally surrounded by family. And although I vividly remember a panic attack about my decision, it was the best thing I could have done. We have been in our new home for just over a year and I don’t regret the move at all. My children have cousins next door and across the road. They have their grandparents just a couple of miles away. And my daughter and son have the male influences of my dad, their uncle and other family members at our fingertips. I am truly blessed beyond measure by my loving family and friends. I will pray for you to have God’s wisdom and guidance through this journey. It was not an easy decision or process to move but it has been an incredibly rewarding part of our grief journey. Don’t let the tasks of sorting things, selling a house, moving, etc stop you from a move. Think of all the things you have done in the past 18 months that you would have never dreamed of doing prior to your loss. You are stronger now than you have ever been and with Christ’s strength, you can do all things!

  • Reply Carolyn November 27, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Hi. Me again. I lost my first husband at 43. My second husband at 73. My third at 74.
    I didn’t move near my family when my children were young. I discussed it with them. I would have been happier with family nearby.
    I’ve been waiting for some of my grief to clear. I want to think and make the best decision I can for myself. I think I will move nearer my daughter sometime this year. I’m taking my time.

  • Reply Joy Brumback November 28, 2017 at 9:24 am

    My husband has been gone 18 months. I had to leave the church we had pastored for 34 years and have a strong desire to move away from the area. However, I am raising a mildly autistic granddaughter and we love her school. I decided to stay here for another 2 1/2 years until she graduates. This year I have been purging and fixing my house to sell. This project has kept me busy. I want to be near my daughter and her family, where I can have a church home and social life again. If you don’t have family where you are, I heartily suggest that you pack it up and move before your kids get any older. Once they start dating you may get a lot of resistance from them. You can do it.

  • Reply Libby Peay November 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Jodi, I look so forward to your posts. Thank you for the encouraging words that it gets some better, or rather not quite as bad. I’m nine months without my Pat and I did move immediately. I don’t think I could have lived in that house by myself, without him. I am living with my son and wife and 2 teenage grandchildren and have lots more family around too. It helps a lot! I know getting moved will probably be a hassle, but you can do it. It will be well worth all the trouble. I can’t wait to see what you decide.

  • Reply Caroline Sellers November 28, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Dear Jodi,
    I have just started following your blog so I do not know how it is that you are far from your family at this point in your life. I just know how important family is and I will be praying for you to make a wise decision regarding a move.
    God bless you with His perfect peace. His Shalom.

  • Reply Terri Ellenberg November 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    It was necessary for me to move a month, to the day of losing him. It was so difficult, moving to a new town, no family, one friend. Couldn’t stay, heartbreaking to leave.
    8 months later, still in limbo. How to progress, to move on?
    If there’s a right way, and a not quite the best way, why does it feel as if I choose the not quite the best way?

  • Reply Shirley Shelbourn December 4, 2017 at 12:58 am

    I have stayed put partly because I knew my husband wanted me to but because I want to also. More house than I need but a move would be overwhelming for me yet. Like you said all of those little details. We moved alot in our married life and I really don’t want to do that just yet. But if need be I could. Thanks again this is year 7 for me and you don’t get over it you just get used to it. But God is good and so life is good.

  • Reply KAYE NEELY December 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I have stayed put, for 15 years. My home is a haven for me and I’ve had no desire to leave it, even when my son has encouraged me to downsize. My answer to him is that if I need to do that, God will have to change my mind. So far, He has provided the way for me to stay. I want to be open to what God desires and not hang on too tightly and believe me, I have had to pray and leave it in His hands. Like you, the thought of moving is overwhelming, but it’s also getting hard to take care of this big place. However, I love having the space for the grandkids visits and extended family gatherings. So, the dialogue in my head continues and I continue to trust God’s leading.

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